Rogue Warrior update

Did I say Fidel in a post the other day?

Apparently I did. And yes, thanks for asking: the book in question is the next Rogue Warrior, and yes, it does take place in Cuba.

Or did. Some of it anyway. Not that we would have gone there when it was illegal to go there, or would have proceeded in any questionably lawful way, whether under the auspices of a government agency or not under those auspices or whatever formulation the lawyers say I'm supposed to use . . .

(If there was research for the book, or events connected or excused by research, or covered by research, they happened last year. But they didn't happen if happening would have meant that they broke the law. And I wasn't involved anyway.)

Some more details about the book -

It's probably going to be called Seize the Day. (Until we see the cover, it's all up in the air.) Fidel does play a major role, witting and otherwise. Most of the supporting cast carries over from the last few books, with the addition of a couple of guys who have been working with Red Cell International, or would have been working with Red Cell if they were real, because they're not, since any semblance to real people is accidental, except where it isn't.

The book will be out in time for Christmas.
Spies . . .

Item: Congresswoman - Jane Harman - and an (alleged) Israeli spy were caught trading power and connections in 2005.

This happens in Washington all the time, except usually not on a wiretap. And usually we don't admit we tap the phones of allies or congresspeople. Not that allies would spy on us . . . any more than a congressperson would trade influence for a quid pro quo . . . or an ally would be able to influence who gets a plum spot in congress or the administration.

It's been claimed that the matter was dropped because of U.S. politics - Harman had helped pass administration programs, ironically including wiretapping legislation. But there would have been plenty of other reasons, including the nature of the original investigation itself.

This is exactly the sort of scandal that does no one any good, so it's likely to fade from the headlines pretty quickly. Which is a shame - we can use a good scandal that has nothing to do with the economy.

A, not an, before eu....

Another week, another copy edit . . .

And another excellent job by the CE, who even figured out what floor Fidel was on in the hospital.

But . . . the editor changed "a euphemism" to "an euphemism."


Yet somehow that endears me to the editor all the more . . .

And no, endears is not a euphemism.
Baseball in quotes

I guess my feelings on the new Stadium are best summed up by the baseball bat, which is now encircled and encapsulated by a set of stairs. They seem like a set of quotes around it - transforming it somehow from an easy place to meet people into an "historical" monument.

Quotes included.

The new stadium does that to the spirit of the old stadium, and baseball in general - the history is encapsulated in quotes.

But the references to the past are, well, just references. There's no actual history at the Stadium. And in fact that's one of its attractions - many of the people who are talking so positively about it are praising how clean it looks.

In the first weekend, balls were flying out of the park. Maybe that was Babe's revenge. The Yankees have claimed that the dimensions of the field are exactly the same, but anyone who has spent a lot of time there can look at right field and know the wall doesn't curve the same way. It doesn't really matter - unless you're Chen Ming Wang - but the insistence that history is being preserved is irksome.

It's too early to tell whether the park really does encourage home runs . . . and it's too early to tell if the "this park could be anywhere" feel I get walking in is a true emotion, or simply a stubborn reaction from someone who went to games at the old park since he was too young to know the difference between a fastball and a curve.

Or sour grapes at losing my field boxes.

For the moment, I struggle to keep an open mind. And more than anything else, the new Stadium has reminded of this: baseball is baseball, whether you play it at Yankee Stadium, or the sandlot across from your house.

Yankee Stadium, as seen from the roof - I mean, my seats . . .

We're standing across the street from the ballpark and these two old guys come up and start sniffing around.


"I love that aroma," says one. He points to my cigar. "Reminds me of real baseball."

Forty or fifty years' worth of experiences follow in the space of a few sentences. We don't really need words. We have cigars.

"Those days are gone," he says wistfully, shaking his head. Then he goes up the street to find out where the new entrance to his seats are.
Randy from PA

I rode to the Yankee game the other day with Randy from PA. He's a greeter at Wal*Marts, which is a pain because they've just changed his work hours to two-eleven. The change interferes with his real avocation - Bleacher Creature.

Randy is more a Creature trainee than an actual bonafide Creature; you have to work your way into the brotherhood over a number of years. But he has the fire - along with a tattoo on his arm telling the world who his favorite team is.

Randy also knows the fielding statistics of every Yankee going back to Greg Nettles. Everybody knows batting averages and home runs, he explained, but being able to cite Celereno Sanchez's error rate on bunt attempts separates the men from the boys - or the Creatures from the wannabes.*

Me, I'm just sitting up in tier these days.

Excuse me, the Grandstands.

* Clereno had 14 errors in 71 games in 1974 . . . not going to cut it if you hit under .250. Great baseball name, though.
Dealing with pirates (2) . . .

Originally, I had several posts critiquing the early stages of the operation, but I've been persuaded that doing so may provide some clues to those wishing to harm others in the future.

Frankly, I don't think many pirates are going to be checking this blog out for clues on what to do, but in the one in a gazillion-billion chance that something I say might actually help anyone on the wrong side, they've all been deleted.

I do expect we'll be better prepared next time.

Just about everyone is now saying that we should go ashore and deal with the situation there. While that is certainly one way to do it - and maybe should be part of an overall solution - we can do a hell of a lot more at sea than we're doing now. As I said the other day, simply changing the rules of engagement and the tactics they imply is an important first step.

The shipping companies and the firms that insure them bear some responsibility in this mess. From their point of view, it's cheaper and safer to play pirate roulette for thirty grand or so a passage, than risk arming the crews and taking other steps to deal with the problem. Obviously their cost-benefit analysis can't calculate the loss of life, which is where this will eventually lead.

And did anyone notice that the pirate was smiling when he was brought to NY the other morning?
Dealing with pirates . . .

The SEALs did a hell of a job. The negotiator did a hell of a job.

But the truth is - we were not properly prepared for that situation. We were not, and are not yet, dealing with the problem in a realistic and imaginative way.

The rules of engagement that have been in place since the establishment of task force d0 not adequately cover the situation and can put people's lives in danger. The tasking is clearly not adequate, on many levels.

The circumstances won't line up like this next time.
We celebrate Christ's Resurrection by pounding people with sticks . . .

MONROE — A New Jersey man, who state police said was traveling 101 miles per hour on Route 17 in the Town of Monroe on Thursday morning, was also found to be in possession of weapons and fireworks.
Troopers say Elefterios Chritis, 20, of Ridgefield, had several weapons in his car, including metal knuckles, knives and a baton. Troopers say they also found about $300 worth of fireworks.
Police said Chritis told them he was preparing for the Greek Orthodox Easter celebration.
He was arraigned in Monroe Village Court and released on $1,000 bail pending an appearance April 29.
Yankee Stadium impressions

So yeah, we're playing hooky and checking the new ball field out. First impressions:

The bat remains, ensconced in the bridge from Metro-North and the Degan parking lots. It probably won't be the best place to meet any more, though - a bit too far from the new Stadium. And it looks less like a bat and more like a monument surrounded by a steel staircase.

The parking lot configuration & traffic flow make even less sense than before. Obviously - most of the lots were set up for the old Stadium. Tough to judge anything yet, though, especially on day games. The distance to the far lots could work out, if the close-in lots empty quickly. Then again, the 'I don't know where I'm going but I'm going there anyway' and tourist factors will be increased exponentially this year.

Things you never saw outside the old stadium: A maintenance guy sweeping up cigarettes (and cigars) from the sidewalk.

They check your car for bombs at the "preferred customer" parking lots. The other ones - hey, we can afford to lose some of the rabble, no?

There are a lot more food places scattered around, not to mention the restaurants. This will take considerably more research, but preliminary recce showed that most stands are duplicates. Haven't found the sushi place yet. The Italian deli place may or may not have been replaced by a place selling Boar's Head sandwiches. (OK as far as they go, but ham and Swiss is no replacement for prosciutto and coppacolla*, w/provolone.

The good - there are a few more places to get bass ale. The bad - they still don't have it on draft.

The garlic fries are extremely greasy, as they should be.

But they ran out of vanilla soft-serve ice cream Friday.

Contrary to rumor, none of the thousands of flat screens added to the Stadium are in the restrooms. At least not in the men's. And there are still lines. The men's doesn't smell like twenty-year-old beer, but we'll give that time.

The center video screen is massive - but figuring out where balls and strikes are tracked is tricky. (On smaller boards by the foul poles.)

More research is needed here as well, but getting out of the Stadium is not easy at all. There were massive jams Friday, when the game wasn't decided until the ninth. We'll have to see how this goes, because it could be a major design flaw.

The place looks nice, open and modern. Does it have New York character . . . ??? But there are definitely characters - guitar man was in the stands. Didn't see Stan and his signs, though. Maybe he got sidetracked in the preferred customer parking lot.

Finding the perfect spot for cigar smoking will take quite a bit more work, but the low wall along 161st shows promise.

And finally:

The view from the cheap seats is a hell of a lot better when the Yankees win.

* Or as it is pronounced in NY, 'pro-shoot n gab-a-goal.'
This didn't take long . . .

Heh . . .
Great day

So my day started with a busted toilet at five a.m. Things can only get better. . . or not.
Today's the day . . .

My own inside tips here.

(Side note to Gerry, et al - nothing personal guys. Right? . . . Right????)
The Rogue Warrior on the Somalia pirates

Dick comes in about eight or nine minutes after the start. Hard to add anything else . . .
Piracy as lunacy, and vice-versa

Listening to the Somalian pirates and supposed elders, you get the impression that they think piracy is a third-world entitlement program.

People in the marine industry seem to think that as well. As in this article, where they're fretting about pirates changing their business model.

You're all nuts.
Definition: Hero

The real reason Apaches don't carry passengers

GARDENA, Calif. (AP) — A judge says a commercial helicopter pilot videotaped in a sex act while flying over San Diego committed gross negligence and cannot have his license back.

National Transportation Safety Board administrative law Judge William R. Mullins upheld a Federal Aviation Administration order revoking the license of David Martz after a hearing Tuesday.

Martz had no comment after the ruling.

A passenger was videotaping when Martz let an adult film actress perform a sex act on him during the 2005 flight, and an edited version eventually became public.

Actually, you have to kind of admire the guy. A lot of hand-eye-foot-and-other coordination involved in this . . .

How you fall in love with a copy editor

And now, for the other copy edit . . . as good as the first was bad. . . .

It's not just that this editor knows the nuances of tense, or actually improves things when suggesting changes. In today's pages, there's a note in the manuscript citing the Chicago Manual of Style chapter and section supporting my word choice . . .

Reality bites . . .

I hate it when reality catches up with a plot - especially when I'm it's in a book that hasn't been published yet.

This is from the Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON -- Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.

The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven't sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

Full story here; you may need a subscription to view it.

Admittedly, this has been somewhat common knowledge 'behind the scenes' for a while, but mainstream publication is kind of drag . . .

Ah well, not a major plot point, and I'm still working on the book. Just another excuse to revise, revise, revise . . .

Falcon down

A bird hit this two-seat F-16 on takeoff, trashing the engine. You can see the bird in the early frame.

Listen carefully and note the contrast between the calm trainee and the ultra-calm instructor. The instructor saw this as a learning opportunity . . . you can almost hear him thinking, Oh good, now for the advanced lesson . . .

The vid has been around for awhile. Someday I'll tell the story about my flight instructor and the barn. Part of how I got the nickname, The Rock.

And no, it wasn't meant as a compliment . . .
Letter to the editor

The copy edit from hell goes back. Excerpt:

. . . Finally, what is up with [copy editor]? If he's not making snotty remarks in his queries, he's rewriting the copy and screwing crap up. This is the second ms. in a row where he's gone over the wall. . . .

Remind him that I have access to heavy weapons and enjoy using them . . .
I don't want to stop . . .

What Red Sox fans do

. . . while waiting for the season to begin.

Dream on, dude . . .
Copy editing - a matter of trust

While dealing with the copy edit from hell, a manuscript for another of my books arrived. This one, too, had been copy edited.

By a master. Or at least someone who understands the concept of past, present and future.

Which isn't to say there aren't queries, let alone copy editing, on the pages. There are plenty. But I trust this editor, whether I agree with her or not.

Copy editing isn't about rules; it's about judgment. A writer can only assess the copy editor's judgment from the way the questions are phrased, when they're asked, and the changes that are proposed. It takes only a few pages to decide whether you can trust the editor or not. If you can't . . . you're in edit hell.

STET - which means return to the original, or in the vernacular, stop fucking with my prose - is really a poor and very limited weapon. Even after you do that, you're faced with the question: What did the editor miss that I got wrong? Because you definitely got something wrong.

If you don't trust the editor, you no longer trust the manuscript.

Speaking of no longer trusting manuscripts, the review of the copy edit from hell continues.

I have a question I can't answer relating to my responses: Should FU be capped? What about WTF?

I may have to consult a copy editor . . .